As Yemen enters the seven-year of its war, mothers and women continue to pay the highest price. With more than 20 million people in need of crucial humanitarian assistance, Yemen is suffering greatly. What once was a joyful, celebrated aspect of life’s circle is slowly turning into an absolute death sentence for many vulnerable Yemenise women. Thus, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), in Yemen, one woman dies in childbirth every two hours.
A depleted health system
Even under normal circumstances, the journey to motherhood is very hard and tiring. Thus, under the tragic circumstances of this man-made tragedy, vulnerable women barely stand a chance of survival. Not only is the Yemenis health system barely functional, but it is also severely underequipped and lacking. Also, due to the ongoing armed conflict, only fifty percent of all health facilities in Yemen are running.
Moreover, the current coronavirus pandemic only added more wood to the fire. The health system had to dedicate 15 percent of the functional health facilities to treat the infected. Therefore, only 20 percent of these facilities are providing maternal and child health services.
Furthermore, in 2020, 40% of the UNFPA-supported health facilities had to shut down due to inadequate funding. The closure denied almost 1 million women access to critical care and safe childbirth services. Many of the death cases taking place every two hours are preventable in case of health care accessibility, according to UN reports. Additionally, for every woman dying in childbirth, almost 20 other women suffer near-fatal injuries, infections, or life-long disabilities.
“The situation is catastrophic,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem, during her recent three-day visit to the country
Severe malnutrition and food insecurity
Food insecurity and malnutrition are harming almost the entire Yemenis population, but pregnant and breastfeeding women are suffering the most. Right now, almost more than 1.2 women are suffering acute malnourishment.
“I’ve been in many maternity wards, and they are usually a place of joy. But in Yemen, I witnessed the devastation of malnutrition and hunger, with newborn babies on feeding tubes and mothers weakened by fear and exhaustion,” Dr. Kanem noted. “It is heartbreaking to see fellow members of the human family in such dire conditions.”
Furthermore, with the country standing on famine’s door and no humanitarian funding, the numbers are about to double. Currently, 50,000 people are suffering famine-like conditions, and experts are expecting the numbers to increase by more than 200% within the next year.
“What is happening to the people of Yemen is unimaginably cruel. Aid groups are catastrophically underfunded and overstretched. The parties to this senseless war specialize in producing suffering and the weapon of choice is hunger,” said Jan Egeland, the Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
Increase in gender-based violence
During the country’s years of ongoing conflict, women’s and girls’ vulnerability to violence has escalated tremendously. As poverty and insecurity increase, so does child marriage. A UNFPA study revealed that 1 in 5 displaced girls, aged 10 to 19, were married in Yemen. Thus, impoverished and poor families are using child marriages as a method of coping with the current situation.
“When I told my father, I do not want to get married, my father and grandmother beat me with a water pipe. They said by getting married I will have a better life”, said Alea, a girl who was forced to marry at age 13. “My life only got worse. My husband started to sell all my jewelry and when I inquired about them, he would beat me. I then ran to my father’s house, but he also beat me and chased me back to my husband. I was left with nowhere to go.”
Furthermore, in 2020, almost 350,000 Yemenis women got deprived of greatly-needed gender-based violence services after the closure of 12 UNFPA-supported safe spaces. According to UN reports, almost 6.1 million Yemenis women and girls require these kinds of services, but barely a few of them are receiving any.
“We not only need funding to sustain services but we urgently need to scale up to save the lives of women and girls,” said Nestor Owomuhangi, UNFPA’s Representative in Yemen.
âThe families Iâm meeting in Yemen are staring starvation in the eyesâ. (2021). NRC. https://www.nrc.no/news/2021/march/the-families-im-meeting-in-yemen-are-staring-starvation-in-the-eyes/In Yemen’s man-made catastrophe, women and girls pay the heaviest price. (2021). UNFPA – United Nations Population Fund. https://www.unfpa.org/news/yemens-man-made-catastrophe-women-and-girls-pay-heaviest-priceMotherhood on the brink in Yemen. (2021, March 29). UN News. https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/03/1088352Urgent funding needed to provide protection and health services to millions of women in Yemen. (n.d.). UNFPA – United Nations Population Fund. Retrieved April 2, 2021, from https://www.unfpa.org/press/urgent-funding-needed-provide-protection-and-health-services-millions-women-yemen#:%7E:text=Reality%20for%20Women%20of%20Childbearing,not%20able%20to%20use%20it.Yemen: Famine around the corner, says World Food Programme – Yemen. (2021, March 1). ReliefWeb. https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/yemen-famine-around-corner-says-world-food-programme
Yemen’s Humanitarian Catastrophe 2023: Explained
Yemen has been experiencing an armed conflict and humanitarian crisis since 2015, with seven brutal years of pain, fear, bloodshed and death. This article provides an update on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen as of February 2023.
Background to Yemen’s Humanitarian Catastrophe
Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when Houthi insurgents—Shiite rebels with links to Iran and a history of rising against the Sunni government—took control of Yemen’s capital and largest city, Sana’a, demanding lower fuel prices and a new government.
Two-thirds of the Yemini Population is in Need of Humanitarian Assistance
As of February 2023, two-thirds of the Yemeni population requires humanitarian assistance. The “Houthis” forces backed by Iran, the Saudi/UAE-led coalition, the internationally recognized Yemeni government, and UAE-backed forces, including the Southern Transitional Council (STC), have failed to spare Yemeni civilians grave human rights violations.
There has been a flagrant disregard for international humanitarian and human rights law protections. Thus, the war has resulted in continuous incidents of abuse that have killed and injured thousands of civilians.
Nearly six million Yemenis are displaced from their homes since the beginning of the war, including 4.3 million internally displaced inside Yemen.
So far, there are no signs of the war stopping soon.
Parties to the War Responsible For Grave Human Rights Violations
Parties to the conflict in Yemen continue to commit grave human rights violations. According to a recent report by Human Rights Watch, the clashes between forces have led to continuous unlawful and indiscriminate airstrikes against civilians.
Houthi forces have used banned antipersonnel landmines and fired artillery indiscriminately into populated areas. Moreover, Houthi forces have launched indiscriminate ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia.
Failed Truce in April 2022
An UN-mediated truce entered force on April 2nd 2022. The truce lasted six months, ending on October 2nd 2022. However, human rights violations continued, and the truce failed as parties broke the agreement with continued fighting and hostilities.
All parties to the conflict failed to protect innocent civilians’ lives. The truce in Yemen ended as both sides rejected a proposal presented by UN Special Envoy for Yemen to extend and expand the agreement.
However, on a brighter note, the truce brought noticeable tangible benefits to the Yemeni population. For example, access to humanitarian aid improved, and widespread economic opportunities became more readily available. Furthermore, there was a considerable decrease in violence and casualties across Yemen. A report by ACLED revealed the lowest number of reported political violence-related deaths in Yemen since January 2015.
These noticeable and valuable improvements should not ignore that political violence continued in Yemen despite the truce. Worringly, 200 people died every month during the truce due to political violence.
20 Million Yeminis’ Face Food Insecurity
The humanitarian crisis hit a dangerously dire point in 2022 due to constant obstruction of aid from reaching civilians. Houthi forces and the Yemeni government continue unnecessarily imposing restrictions and regulations on humanitarian organizations and aid projects.
Moreover, enforced disappearances are a massive problem in Yemen, with little accountability or investigations. In addition, the economy’s collapse, the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have led to Yemen being one of the world’s most unsettling humanitarian disasters.
More than 20 million Yemenis are facing food insecurity and have little to no access to health care services. The war has resulted in deliberate unlawful attacks against civilian homes, hospitals, schools, and bridges. For years, these war crimes have continued with impunity.
FSO Safer Threatened a Humanitarian and Environmental Catastrophe
The FSO Safer is a “ticking time bomb”, holding an estimated 1.14 million barrels of light crude oil. Since 2015, the Safer has been stranded off the coast of Yemen.
Yemen’s national oil company owns the FSO. Due to the Yemen war, all production and export operations related to FSO are suspended. However, millions of barrels of crude oil remain onboard.
The ongoing crisis in Yemen has made the Safer too dangerous to move. According to the UN, the Safer could explode or rupture anytime, threatening an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe. This dire situation could quickly become one of the worst oil spills in history, devastating Yemen and the environment. Luckily, a two-stage UN-coordinated plan to prevent the Safer from exploding or breaking apart was initiated in March 2022.
In September 2022, the UN stated it had raised sufficient funds to initiate a four-month-long operation to transfer oil from the Safer to a secure vessel. Following this first step, a second stage will involve installing a replacement vessel within 18 months. The rescue mission is estimated to cost up to $115 million for both stages.
However, despite these initiated plans, recent efforts to rescue the Safer have been unsuccessful due to the region’s ongoing conflict.
Yemini Women’s and Girl’s Rights Under Threat
The Houthi rebels continue discriminating against girls and women and restricting their freedom and rights. There have been significant systematic violations of women’s and girls’ rights. The de facto law in Houthi-controlled areas requires women to travel with a mahram (a close male relative or their husband). In addition, evidence of written permission from their male guardian will also suffice.
Women’s access to healthcare services, particularly reproductive healthcare, have severely limited since the war began. Furthermore, women’s dress code, access to education and freedom of expression is severely controlled and limited by men.
The eight-year war in Yemen has caused immense suffering, and a recent UNDP report estimated that the number of those killed due to Yemen’s war could reach 1.3 million by 2030. Furthermore, the death toll from Yemen’s war is estimated to reach 377,000 by the end of 2021. To put matters into perspective, an estimated 70% of those killed will be children under the age of five years.
The evidence discussed in this article reveals alarming discoveries which must be addressed immediately. Mainly associated with girls’ and women’s rights, environmental threats, food insecurities and an increased number of civilians needing humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, an increasingly worsening economy, decimated public infrastructure, and a year-on-year decline in humanitarian funding have put Yemenis’ lives under direct threat.
The situation in Yemen is a complex protection crisis at its very core. Many Yemenis struggle to live in safety and dignity and enjoy basic fundamental rights or access to essential services.
This worrying reality must be addressed and changed in 2023 with more focused attention on protecting and upholding human rights for everyone.
Children’s Rights in Yemen Are Teetering on the Edge of A Catastrophe
What is Happening in Yemen?
As the world focuses on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Yemen’s children’s rights crisis is teetering on the edge of an outright catastrophe.
The war in Yemen is entering its eighth year since the conflict escalated in March 2015. Yemen’s civil war started when Houthi insurgents took control of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, demanding lower fuel prices and a new government.
In January 2022, one civilian died every hour in Yemen, setting a record for the deadliest month of conflict since 2018. In addition, UNICEF estimated that 70% of the population requires humanitarian assistance. Moreover, there are 4 million people internally displaced, of which 2 million are children. Yemen is very youthful, with 40% of its population under fourteen. As the war intensifies, millions of children are denied their fundamental human rights.
How is this War Affecting Children’s Rights?
In recent weeks humanitarian organizations have faced unprecedented funding shortages, which has hindered their ability to deliver aid and life-saving services to local civilians. The Yemeni people have minimal access to fundamental rights such as food, clean water, shelter and health care services.
1. Hunger & Health Crises Reach a Critical State
According to a recent IPC report, there is an appalling hunger crisis in Yemen which has recently reached its most critical state. There are 2.2 million children acutely malnourished and half a million children facing severe acute malnutrition. According to UN officials, 19 million Yemenis are on the brink of hunger unless sufficient funding is raised. There are more than eight million children on the verge of famine, and up to 13 million children urgently in need of immediate healthcare.
Furthermore, recent data indicate that the number of people experiencing catastrophic hunger levels is expected to increase from 31,000 to a shocking 161,000 during the second half of 2022.
“These harrowing figures confirm that we are on a countdown to catastrophe in Yemen and we are almost out of time to avoid it. Unless we receive substantial new funding immediately, mass starvation and famine will follow. But if we act now, there is still a chance to avert imminent disaster and save millions.”World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley.
2. Families Recieve Half the WFP Daily Minimum Food Supply
In 2022, many households only received half of the WFP standard daily minimum food supply. Consequently, the war has caused food prices to rise to unaffordable levels for civilians. The Ukrainian war is causing import shocks resulting in food prices further increasing. An estimated 30% of Yemen’s wheat supply comes from Ukraine, meaning they depend highly on their market.
The COVID-19 pandemic also increased pressure on the fragile health care system. As a result, the pandemic exacerbated the underlying protection and gender-related vulnerabilities of women and children. Recently, Save the Children noted that thousands of children in Yemen are on the verge of losing access to life-saving healthcare. The country faces the largest fuel crisis since the start of the conflict in 2014, exacerbating this crisis.
3. Children Killed and Recruited to Armed Conflict
As the violence in Yemen intensifies, children are the first and most to suffer. Consequently, in the first two months of 2022, 47 children were killed or injured in Yemen. UN officials’ held that conflict escalated between government forces and the Houthi rebels. Since the start of the war, UNICEF reported 10,200 children killed or injured.
The UN Security Council reported that in “one camp, children as young as seven years of age were taught to clean weapons and evade rockets”.
Human rights front line watchers have repeatedly reported recruiting children into armed conflict by the Houthi rebels. Since 2014, 10,300 children were recruited to rebel ranks. In 2020, the UN’s Yemen Panel of Experts noted 1,406 children recruited had died. The UN experts report stated that 562 children died fighting between January and May 2021.
4. Children’s Rights Compromised Due To Very Limited Access to Education
The United Nations has warned that the war in Yemen has left an estimated 8.1 million children in need of educational support. The children in Yemen must have access to safe learning spaces. Education has the potential to save lives and sow the seeds for a more peaceful future within the country. Furthermore, uneducated children trap themselves in a self-perpetuating cycle of poverty.
Limited access to education has profound cognitive and emotional developmental disruptions for Yemen’s 10 million school-age children. The educational infrastructure in the country is severely damaged, with reports of over 2,500 schools destroyed by war. There are currently more than 2 million children out of school. For approximately four years, two-thirds of the school teachers in Yemen are not receiving a regular salary.
The Need for Collective and Meaningful Action in Yemen for Children’s Rights
Yemen is a regional proxy war which has killed more than 150,000 people. Children are vulnerable to hunger, disease, exploitation, child labour, domestic and gender-based violence, child marriage and psychosocial distress. UNICEF recently reported that this war resulted in the most significant global humanitarian crisis.
Angelina Jolie, who works closely as an ambassador to the UNHCR, visited Yemen in March 2022. Jolie drew parallels between refugees in Yemen and those suffering from the war in Ukraine. She stated, “as we continue to watch the horrors unfolding in Ukraine and call for an immediate end to the conflict and humanitarian access, I’m here in Yemen to support people who also desperately need peace”.
The UNHCR Calls For Safe Passage of Civilians
The UNHCR calls for all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and the safe passage for civilians fleeing conflicted areas. Furthermore, humanitarian organizations and workers must have full access to the country to deliver aid. The UNHCR calls for a peace agreement to help find a solution to ending the war. An important lesson from the Ukrainian war is that we cannot be selective about whose rights we choose to defend. The lives of refugees fleeing persecution everywhere are of equal importance.
Everyone deserves the same kindness and support. We must help all those suffering through the horrors of war.
What is driving the hatred against Asian-Americans in the US?
A Chinese man was walking back home after a long exhausting day through the side streets of Chinatown, Manhattan. A strange person abruptly overshadows him from the back, and suddenly an 8-inch knife was plunged into the 36-year old’s back.
This is not a description of any mystery crime movie, but a real incident that took place on 25th February this year. And what’s more staggering is that despite being a heart-wrenching incident, the stabbing was not unusual for the locals.
The mass shooting and murdering of four Asian-Americans in Atlanta have been in the headline for the last few days arising the question; what is driving the hatred against the Asian-American community in America? Why is the US failing in bridging socio-cultural gaps between the Asian and American communities? And what can be done to stop the escalating Xenophobia?
What is driving the Asian-Americans hatred in the US?
The US and China are global rivals and stand against each other on various grounds. Tensions over human rights, a dispute over trade and territory of the South China Sea have been escalating between the two superpowers. This unfavourable opinion is as common in the Democrats as in Republicans.
But in recent times, these negative sentiments are rooting in the citizens, and have spiked unimaginable consequences. There have been mass killings of targeted communities before in America; but most of them took place at a time when attacks and mass shooting was already on rising in general.
The cases of violence against the Asian community have been exponential plunging especially since the beginning of the pandemic. The origin of COVID coupled with misinformation about the virus on various social media platforms is believed to the driving factor behind the surge of Xenophobia.
Furthermore, the former US president, Donal Trump, almost every time referred to the coronavirus as ‘a Chinese virus’; thus further deepening the country’s long history of justifying anti-Asian Xenophobia, which can be dated back to the 19th and 20th centuries. This to some extent helped in painting the picture of Asian-Americans as ‘Perpetual Foreigners’ to America.
Escalating attack on Asian-Americans
A 64-year-old Vietnamese woman was first assaulted and then robbed in San Jose, Calif. Physical abuse of a 61-year old Filipino man on a subway of New York City; 84-year old Vicha Ratanapakdee, violently thrown to the ground while taking his morning walk; the incident cause death of the elderly. This list is ever-increasing and endless.
According to NYPD’s report on hate-driven crime against Asians have raised by more than 1900% just in 2020. For sake of controlling the increasing targeted violence, a reporting database (Stop AAPI Hate) was created at the dawn of the pandemic. In just less than 10-months, more than 2,800 anti-Asian hatred triggered violence cases were reported.
In the pandemic year, Asian-Americans were already suffering because of the increased racism attacks; when eight victims, mostly of Asian descent, were shot dead by a white gunman in Atlanta.
How did the Asian-American community respond?
Rights activists have been trying to bring the escalating violence against the Asian community to the public eye for a long, but the Atlanta shooting incidents have flamed the sparking rage and now the entire US is protesting against intensifying Xenophobia.
With sadness, fear, and hopelessness choking their throat; the anger burst out on social media. #StopAsianHate stayed the top trending hashtag on Twitter for hours.
Vicente Reid, CEO of the Arizona Asian Chamber of Commerce is planning for a vigil in Mesa’s Phoenix suburb, an area with a high concentration of Asian-American population; in the wake of the petrified local community post the slaying.
Mr Vincent Reid says; “I think there is this whole outlet of this younger generation who’s passionate and has the energy. They just need someone to step up and lead them.”
What can the US government do to control the situation?
Experts believe that Trumps’ rhetoric has encouraged some Americans to publicly express their anti-Asian and anti-immigrant sentiments.
It is very highly unlikely that the Biden administration will try to tamp down the tension between America and China; just for obstructing the fuelling Xenophobia. But instead, the government should try to explicitly tells the Americans not to amalgamate the country’s cold war with China with the Asian-Americans community.
Nikki Fortunato Bas, president of Oakland City Council have called out for solidarity amongst the coloured community or increase policing as a solution to the increasing targeted violence.
Strict action against the attackers can help mellow down the situation. But, experts believe that a long-term strategy will be needed to reduce the anti-Asian sentiments. Asian-Americans are no more a minority community in the US, the government need to highlight their presence in a positive light and identify them as an explicit part of the country.
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